Army private who fled to North Korea charged with desertion, held by US military

Details aren't available about how King was treated while in North Korea

NORTHKOREA-USA/TRAVIS KING US Army soldier Travis King appears in this unknown location, undated photo | Reuters

The US Army private Travis King, who crossed over to North Korea has been charged with desertion and other crimes including possession of child pornography, assaulting fellow soldiers, and disobeying a superior officer, according to a CNN report. 

King's mother, Claudine Gates, said that her son should be afforded the presumption of innocence, an AP report reads. Gates also said she is “extremely concerned about his mental health.” 

King crossed the Military Demarcation Line into North Korea on 18 July 2023 while on a civilian tour of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). King returned to the US in September. The 23-year-old is being held in pre-trial detention at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Allegedly, King crossed over “willfully and without authorization”.

King was, in October 2022, involved in an incident where he allegedly pushed and punched a person in the face at a club in Seoul, for which he was detained. He was released and was supposed to head to Texas for disciplinary action. But, when he was released at the security checkpoint at an airport in Seoul, he fled and next day, joined a tour of the Joint Security Area.

King was retrieved following negotiations led by the Swedish government. He was brought across the border into China, where he was handed over to the US ambassador. Details aren't available about how King was treated while in North Korea. His family has hired a legal team to defend him. 

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